"Bildungsstreik 2009" [educational strike] in Germany (a summary)

Dear activists around the world,

as most of you probably know, students, pupils, parents, teachers and other activists across Germany stood up and united against the commercialisation of public education, the Bologna process, for free and emancipatory public education and more money for the public education system in general.
The week of protest began last monday and unfortunately most occupations and actions also ended with the week of action on friday or saturday.

In general the week of protest went really well. It was the first time that various social groups united in their efforts successfully. A lot of networking was done and hopefully the more than 100 local alliances across Germany, which were created, will also stay united in the future.

Now, here is a little overview of what happened last week in Germany [please note, that I did not list all the alternative seminars or flashmobs that were arranged]:

Monday [15/06]:

  • "Campus-Camps" were set up on various campuses in about 15 cities
  • the Institute for Philosophical studies in Heidelberg was occupied + later that day the Romanic Institute was occupied as well
  • the main building of the Ruhr - University in Bochum was blocked by activists
  • all entries of buildings on campus Grifflenberg of the University of Wuppertal were blocked by students
  • the complete Otto-Suhr Institute for political sciences [which is part of the Free University Berlin] together with the Institute for Eastern European studies were occupied in Berlin
  • the institute for architecture of the Technical University of Berlin
  • sit-in (~ 30 people) blocking the entry of the state chancellery in Düsseldorf
  • more than 100 people at the warm-up demonstration in Düsseldorf
  • about 500 people gathered on the campus in Bochum for a spontaneous demonstration
  • an "alternative university" was kicked off in Mainz with more than 60 alternatives seminars and workshops + the main university building was blocked with barricades
  • entries to the Philosophical Institute of the University of Münster were blocked with barricades
  • the whole University of Hamburg was on strike + various entries were blocked and one building [Raue Haus] occupied + various streets were blocked
  • various buildings at the University of Hildesheim were blocked
  • a protest camp set up by pupils was broken up by the school administration of the Christophorus-Gymnasium (secondary school) in Verne
  • a street party took place an blocked the university street in Berlin
  • after a general assembly at the Technical University of Berlin 1,200 students spontaneously took to the streets and blocked streets; some students were arrested (news report + pictures)
  • students at the "Kunsthochschule Weißensee" [University of Arts Weißensee-Berlin] removed all tables and chairs inside the halls and created space for alternative circles of discussion
  • students occupied the 4th floor of a lecture building of the Humboldt University in Berlin
  • during a general assembly students at the University of Kassel agreed to join the "educational strike" + a computer hall as well as the chancellors' office were occupied
  • faculty of humanities at the Leibniz-University in Hanover was occupied
  • the largest lecture building of the University of Halle was occupied by students at night
  • more than 150 school students demonstrate against cutting the time frame to achieve A'levels by one year in Düsseldorf

Tueday [16/06]:

  • the complete faculty of social sciences at the University of Hildesheim went on strike + later on 3,000 people joined a rally in the city centre
  • all entries to the universitiy presidents' office were blocked in Göttingen
  • various buildings on campus of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena were occupied; video 1, video 2

  • blockades at the University of Wuppertal continue
  • all tables and chairs were removed from lecture halls and put inside the cafeteria by activists at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf
  • various institutes at the University of Halle were occupied, including the Institute for Ethnology and the Institute for Speech Communication
  • a lecture building at the Free University of Berlin was occupied
  • the whole Alice-Salomon University of Applied Sciences was blocked and partly occupied + alternative seminars were arranged
  • 100 students spontaneously decided to kick off a demonstration on campus in Dresden
  • the university presidents' office at the Free University of Berlin was occupied by hundreds of students + a few hours later they were evicted by police forces; pressure from students outside was too strong, so no IDs were checked and the three students arrested were freed again
  • hundreds of students went to visit schools at asked school students to join the "educational strike" in Hanover
  • close to 100 students dressed as sheep protested against the Bachelor degree in Essen
  • close to 1,000 students and pupils took to the streets for free education in Giessen, main junctions were blocked for hours
  • after a general assembly at the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt (Main) 300 students spontaneously expressed their protest on the streets
  • more than 30 students at the University of Tübingen occupied the rectors' office
  • 200 students joined the university senat hearing and declared the "Free University of Heidelberg" together with lecturers
  • in the early morning some 40 students blocked the rectors' office in Göttingen with bike locks, sit-ins and bicycles + the blockade was kept until the afternoon
  • the federal parliament of Lower Saxony (in Hanover) was blocked by students in protest against education policies

Wednesday [17/06]:

  • in Dortmund students stormed the town hall and occupied it temporarily
  • some school directors prohibited pupils from joining the demonstrations; they were locked inside the schools
  • the federal parliament of Rhineland Palatinate (in Mainz) was occupied during a demonstration, the demands were read out and two people arrested during the protest, video

  • the university presidents' office in Göttingen was occupied by students
  • a branch of the Deutsche Bank was blocked by hundreds of students in Minden
  • the ministry for science and arts in Dresden was occupied
  • a prestige building of the Technical University of Darmstadt was barricaded to protest against a "two-class" public education system and the state support to create an elitist group of universities/schools
  • 700 students occupied the rectors' office at the University of Heidelberg
  • a local goverment building was occupied in Münster
  • during an attempt to get pupils from schools in Nürnberg to join the demonstrations some pupils were attacked by police forces with pepper spray
  • 2,000 students blocked streets in Essen and were attacked by the police; at least 10 students were detained and IDs recorded
  • the local education authority in Marburg was occupied by more than 100 students and pupils; they drafted a press release together and left the building one hour later again
  • at least one protesters was injured and arrested in Bielefeld during a police attack
  • hundreds of students blocked the access road to the highway in Marburg for one hour after students were attacked with pepper spray and one was detained
  • one student was arrested during a spontaneous demonstration in Würzburg
  • during a demonstration near the town hall in Hamburg pupils were attacked by the police and six 14years old pupils were detained; all together close to 20 students and pupils were detained in Hamburg during the protests
  • various buildings on campus of the Technical University of Berlin were occupied and barricaded
  • hundreds of pupils temporarily occupied some school buildings in Augsburg
  • the inner city of Tübingen was blocked by hundreds of students for 4 hours by a student sit-in
  • two students were temporarily arrested during road blockades in Eberswalde
  • the academic examination office of the University of Hanover was temporarily occupied

Thursday [18/06]:

  • the main lecture hall at the University of Konstanz was occupied; consequently the university had to call off a PR event
  • the Institute of Political Sciences was occupied in Marburg
  • the AfE Tower on campus of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt was occupied by hundreds of students
  • entries at the ministry of science in Potsdam were blocked by students; video

  • hundreds of students blocked tram rails in Würzburg; police broke up the blockades and arrested 7 students
  • banks across Germany were "visited" and blocked to protest against the billions of Euros of tax payers' money going to banks, although for years we are told that there is no money for public education; during the actions students were arrested in some cities; since these actions were announced in advance many banks were closed or protected by police forces for the whole day
  • 150 students gathered for a protest on bicycles through the city centre of Berlin
  • activists disruppted a speech by the director of the Commerzbank (Mr. Blässing) at a school; each time he mentioned the need to support the development of an elite in science and education the activists cheered and applauded loudly
  • the main entrance to the University of Bielefeld was blocked by more than 100 students
  • all chairs and tables were removed from the lecture halls at the Evangelical University of Applied Sciences in Bochum and sculptures were build with them outside
  • more than 1,500 pupils demonstrated in Soltau-Fallingbostel
  • more than 50 pupils entered the town hall in Augsburg, enrolled a huge banner and declared it to be the base of the "board of students"; shortly after the activists were removed by the police
  • 1,000 people blocked a branch of the Deutsche Bank and Hypo-Real-Estate in Berlin; video clip 1, video clip 2, video clip 3

  • in Hamburg 50 education activists temporarily occupied a ship; shortly after they were evicted and surrounded by police
  • all together 9 banks were "visited" in Hamburg alone, video 1, video 2

  • during a session on the "educational strike" within the state parliament of Hesse (in Wiesbaden) activists enrolled a big banner and shouted their demands; the session had to be stopped and the activsts violently removed

Friday [19/06]:

  • the "Conference of the Ministers for Education and Cultural Affairs" (KMK) held a meeting in Berlin today; a rally "Block KMK - Fight Bologna" was arranged; close to 1,000 people attended it and the conference was aborted prematurely due to the protests
  • the occupation of the rectors' office in Heidelberg was evicted - details of all 150 students were recorded; the administration withdrew the charges

Saturday [20/06]:

  • more than 2,000 students and pupils demonstrated in Düsseldorf; junctions were blocked in the city centre, video 1, video 2

All occupations were evicted by the police or were peacefully given up by the occupiers.
Right now local groups and alliances are considering how to continue. At many places various study groups were created and activists are now looking forward to the next nationwide meeting in the middle of July in Bonn to evaluate the week of protest together.

Thanks to all who sent in messages of support - I tried to list most of them in this document - especially those activists in Croatia and on the Philippines for the videos.

The Global Week of Action in November might be a good opportunity for the next big wave of protests.

Unfortunately all the videos are in German. This needs to change in the near future. We need to have protest videos in English.


Letter from Rijeka [Croatia]

Dear colleagues,

We are Croatian students from Rijeka joined in the Independent initiative for free education. Together with our colleagues in Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Pula, Varazdin, Slavonski Brod and Osijek, we have occupied our faculties, in a struggle against commercialization of education and an endeavor to eliminate tuition fees. Our occupation started a few days after Zagreb’s (22nd April 2009) and lasted until 17th May, 2009. The Initiative organized the occupation of three (out of ten) faculties in Rijeka of which each faculty had its plenary session (plenum). Although it may not seem much, we feel urged to inform you that our Initiative has encountered several sabotage attempts and a lot of misunderstanding from our legal representatives who used their position for financial gain, neglecting their duties as student officials. After the end of the occupation (but not the overall struggle) we organized a small protest march with a declaration directed to the authorities: ‘Minister, see you in autumn!’ so to remind the Minister, government and the public that the end of the occupation is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning. In autumn, our Initiative plans to organize numerous forms of direct actions, debates, protests, but primarily plans to inform people about the severity of this problem which is not just a mindless idea in the heads of a handful of students, but a real global problem.

We have been reading about your protests in over 70 cities all over Germany. Our newspapers have also written about it, giving valuable information that all over the world students are no longer an apathetic and lethargic part of the society. We have become an active social component and we demand change and equality! This is our moment in history and we must not allow the market to dictate the forthcoming transformation of education! We strongly believe in an education accessible to everyone, not just to the affluent ruling classes!

Once again, you have our strongest support and we urge you not to give up, but keep fighting for a better and equal society!

One world, one struggle, education is not for sale!!!

Independent initiative for free education Rijeka


auf deutsch:

Liebe Kollegen,

Wir sind kroatische Studenten aus Rijeka, die sich der unabhängigen Initiative für freie Bildung angeschlossen haben. Zusammen mit unseren Kollegen/innen aus Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Pula, Varaždin, Slavonski Brod und Osijek haben wir unsere Fakultäten blockiert, um gegen Bildungskommerzialisierung und Schulgebühr zu kämpfen. Unsere Initiative begann ein paar Tage nach der Initiative der Studenten in Zagreb (am 22. April 2009) und dauerte bis zum 17. Mai 2009. Jede der drei (von insgesamt zehn) eingenommenen Fakultäten in Rijeka hat ihre eigene Plenarsitzung (Plenum) regelmäßig gehalten. Obwohl das vielleicht nicht besonders bedeutungsvoll erscheint, möchten wir Ihnen Bescheid geben, dass wir uns mit einigen Sabotageversuchen, sowie mit dem Missverständnis unserer Studentenvertreter, die ihre Position finanziell ausnutzen und ihr Pflicht vernachlässigen, auseinandersetzen mussten. Nach dem Ende des Studentenstreiks (was nicht das Ende des Kampfes an sich war) haben wir einen Protestmarsch durch die Stadt mit der Botschaft „Herr Minister, wir sehen uns im Herbst!“ organisiert. Damit wollten wir den Bildungsminister, die Regierung und die Öffentlichkeit darauf aufmerksam machen, dass das Ende der Blockade nicht unbedingt der Beginn des Endes, sondern das Ende des Beginns bedeutet. Unsere Initiative hat den Plan, in mehrere direkte Aktionen zu treten, Debatten und Proteste zu organisieren, aber vor allem die Öffentlichkeit zu überzeugen, dass dieses Problem nicht nur eine leichtsinnige Idee von einer Handvoll Studenten, sondern ein großes globales Problem ist.

Wir haben von den Protesten in über 70 Städten Deutschlands gelesen. Unsere Zeitungen haben über dieses Thema berichtet und endlich wurden Studenten der Welt nicht mehr als apathisch und teilnahmslos dargestellt. Wir sind ein wichtiger Teil der Gesellschaft geworden und wir verlangen Veränderung und Gleichheit! Jetzt ist unsere Zeit in der Weltgeschichte und wir dürfen dem Markt nicht erlauben, den Verlauf der Bildung zu bestimmen und ihre Entwicklung zu verhindern! Wir sind davon überzeugt, dass Bildung allen Menschen zur Verfügung stehen sollte, nicht nur der reichen, führenden Gesellschaftsschicht!

Noch einmal zu wiederholen, sie haben unsere volle Unterstützung. Geben Sie auf keinen Fall auf, sondern kämpfen Sie weiter für bessere Gesellschaft und Gleichheit!

Eine Welt, ein Streben; Bildung darf nicht käuflich sein!!!

Unabhängige Initiative für freie Bildung, Rijeka


270,000 people protest in Germany

270,000 people demonstrate for better educational system in Germany

In the Week between 15. - 20. Juli in Germany thousends of students from schools and universities demonstrated against the current conditions and developments within the educational system. The protests called "Bildungsstreik 2009" ("Educational Strike 2009") demanded for a public financed educational system and aimed against recent reforms as the introduction of tuition fees, the Bologna process and reduction of democratic participation. In schools students protest against the cut of school years from 13 years down to 12 years, introduction of grades for behaviour and the social selection in germanys school system.
The protests took place in over 100 cities nationwide. This is interesting cause of the federal educational system in Germany. The protests were of various forms such as demonstrations, blockades, occupations, creative actions and alternative lectures. On Wednesday decentral demonstrations took place. More than 270,000 people took part in the protests. Biggest demonstrations took place in Berlin (up to 30,000 people), Hamburg, Bremen and Stuttgart. In many other cities it happened to be the biggest demonstrations for the last years, as shown in the picture. (10,000 protesters in Münster, city with about 300,000 habitants)
The same day many public buildings were occupied for a short time, as city halls, banks, the state parliament ("Landtag") of Rheinland-Pfalz and of cause university buildings. In many cities occupation and blockades of university buildung holded up to friday and even monday, as in berlin, marburg, heidelberg, konstanz, frankfurt and hamburg. A lot of other actions took place the hole week and on monday, like flashmobs, creative theatre in public, spontanious demonstrations and street blockades, reclaim the streets partys, protest camps, discussions with and/or disruptions of politicians and occupations of rectors offices.
The protests could be called a big success as for the publicity it got. You can imagine, the protests will (in other forms) hold on, as none of the demanded changes is fulfilled yet. Germanys minister of education Annette Schavan (CDU, conservatives) called the protests "of yesterday" and said: "The bologna process will go on".

by: Olaf Götze

big demonstration in Münster [up to 15,000 people]


protest camp in front of the University of Münster


spontaneous occupation of the district government in Münster